An Inexpensive, Nontoxic and DIY Way to Polish Silver

With the holiday dinner parties fast approaching, festive table settings are on our minds. Tarnished silverware can ruin a perfectly set table, so polishing the silver is one task that shouldn’t be overlooked.


Because commercial silver polish contains toxins, I searched for non-toxic and inexpensive alternatives to cleaning silver flatware. The Daily Green had a silver cleaning recipe that looked promising, but did it really work? I decided to test it out myself.


Here is a sampling of some of my tarnished silver before it was cleaned.


What you will need – aluminum foil, boiling water, baking soda and salt. 

Line your sink or a bucket with aluminum foil, and drop in tarnished silver. Pour in boiling water, a cup of baking soda and a dash of salt. 

Let sit for a few minutes. The tarnish will transfer from the silver to the foil.
If you can’t immerse your items, rub tarnished silver with toothpaste and a soft cloth. Follow by rinsing items with warm water and let dry. As an alternative to toothpaste, rub a mixture of three parts baking soda to 1 part water. I should have tried one of these methods with my silver bowl which did not get fully immersed. 
It might be hard to tell with the lighting, but the results were great – much better than I expected!


Here is a image of one of my spoons tarnished and the other just cleaned – in case you were wondering, the sterling silver flatware pattern is Repousse. As I said, I was very pleased with the results. Best yet, it’s eco-friendly, non-toxic and inexpensive!


Please note that Martha Stewart also had this DIY silver polish method on her site and warned that “with this technique the good tarnish (a desirable patina and the dark crevices in a pattern) may be removed as well, and pitting may result. Experts recommend using a good-quality commercial polish, and there are some less-toxic ones available. For silver, the best way to prevent tarnish is to use the pieces frequently and store them properly when not in use. For flatware and hollowware, wash and dry the pieces by hand after each use. Also, dust display items regularly, and store them in flannel that has been treated to slow tarnishing”.


* first and last images from Southern Accents
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15 Responses to An Inexpensive, Nontoxic and DIY Way to Polish Silver

  1. basketladydi August 9, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    For years I've been using the boiling water and baking soda….I hadn't heard of adding salt…it was so easy my husband volunteers to clean the silver for me!! WooHoo! BUT, as you stated, it did remove the desired darkness in my grandma's silver that I'm sorry to have lost. I don't see any way of getting that back with typical usage. Also I use the aluminum catering pans for soaking my silver.

  2. Sam October 11, 2009 at 2:36 am #

    This is GREAT! I have never heard of this before. I am going to try it tomorrow!

    Come visit my new blog. I would love the visitors! 🙂

  3. niartist October 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    OMG! I have never heard of doing it that way! THANK YOU! The pictures are fab. I'm hosting a giveaway at my blog of genuine Cross Bottles valued at $175. It ends Monday, so hurry over. I think you'll love them!

  4. Julie@beingRUBY October 10, 2009 at 3:05 am #

    Hi Cristin
    Great idea and good money saving tip.. Well not just money.. but eliminateing toxins sounds great to me also. I have something similar I use.. a special metal plate I picked up from who knows where and basically does the same thing with washing soda! As Martha says it does remove the 'wanted patina' but that certainly comes back quick smart!

    I love your vintage silverware.. Have a great weekend. Julie

  5. The Tiny Homestead October 10, 2009 at 12:34 am #

    great info and pictures. thanks! I will have to try that soon for my little silver ring holder that I keep by my bed. It's been nagging me for a while now.

  6. Averill October 9, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    Great tip, Cristin! I just polished some silver plated bath accessories and you would not believe the stench (or what the chemicals did to my dishtowels!). Definitely giving this a try next time.

  7. Kitty October 9, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    Marvelous post! Just in time to save the environment and my respiratory system from the mammoth job of polishing up the silver for Thanksgiving! Thanks!

  8. Struggler October 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    Very interesting, thanks! Happily I don't have so much silver that cleaning it is a headache, but I did recently acquire a thrift store bowl that's been driving me nuts!

  9. My Domicile Style October 9, 2009 at 3:14 pm #

    Great information! I have to say, your blog calmed me just by visiting. So clean and organized, just like the goal for my life!

  10. Best Life October 9, 2009 at 3:07 pm #

    I have always wondered if that works. Thanks for sharing! I love your site. I agree….we need practical, yet lovely, decorating tips! Lisa~

  11. Annie@A View On Design October 9, 2009 at 3:01 pm #

    I must remember this post – I have a heap of silver just screaming “shine me!!!”

  12. Becky K. October 9, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    I always wondered if that really worked. Cool demonstration!

    Becky K.
    Hospitality Lane

  13. trishiekoh October 9, 2009 at 6:36 am #


  14. Chic Coles (Cole Design) October 9, 2009 at 3:55 am #

    Thank you for the information! I have been looking for a great way to clean my silver without using a lot of chemicals. Your silver looks great!

  15. Amanda @ Serenity Now October 9, 2009 at 2:00 am #

    Good review…the baking soda/salt way is much cheaper too. I like that you also added Martha's warning. 🙂 Thank you for the tips! Stopping by from Julia's party. 🙂